Monday, February 20, 2012

My Writing Week: Issue 8, Year 5

Hi all,

I did not do much writing last week because my computer continued to act up. It taunted me by sometimes working, sometimes not. When I was not fiddling with or shouting at my computer, my writing time was taken up by editing chapter thirty-eight of my novel. I then got 800 words into chapter thirty-nine, with the characters finally landing on the planet. I have now written 78,589 words of my epic. 

So will my epic become a best-seller? British writer and critic Robert McCrum says that writers hoping to write a best-seller “might as well stand in a field during a thunderstorm and hope to be struck by lightning”.

Well, when I was younger I once played golf at Trafalgar golf course during a thunderstorm. Huge power lines hang over the Trafalgar golf course, but I was not struck by lightning. But at that stage I was failing English at school. Years later, when I lived in Sydney and worked in research in education, my flat was hit by lightning and it burnt out half the wiring. So maybe I was getting closer to being struck by best-seller luck. Since then I have completed a Master of Creative Writing, but I have also moved to the less thunderstorm prone Wangaratta.


I just checked and it has taken me three weeks to critique the first 19,130 words of a 144,000 word manuscript. I blame Hewlett Packard.

Machine Man

I’ve just finished reading the very good and funny satire Machine Man by Australian Max Barry. It’s about a mechanical engineer who accidentally losses a leg and replaces it with a mechanical one. He then has this excellent mechanical leg and not so great organic leg…If I have no computer problems I should post a review of the novel soon.

I have previously mentioned the rip off that is. Well the scumbags offering the writing jobs have outdone themselves in recent weeks. A new low has been offered: $1.50 for 500 word original articles. These scumbags should be stapled to the wall of a library and have every single book thrown at them.

My Computer Problems

My barely three-year-old computer is still acting up. But not all the time. It won’t save me much aggravation by simply not working, so I can then just go out and buy a new one, instead it continues to taunt me, like someone wearing a Collingwood football scarf.  

Windows said that Kasperspy was causing a problem. Problem was I had not installed Kasperspy on my computer. But I have had problems with antivirus programs before. So I thought I might have a problem with the AVG anti-virus program I was using. AVG would not uninstall no matter what I tried. I finally found a special program on the AVG site that uninstalls AVG when it refuses to be uninstalled. That worked. But alas my computer still acted up next time I turned it on.

So my useless Compaq computer is on death row: act up tomorrow and I do a recovery (which will take about two days to complete, with all the updates to software that it will need). If the Compaq computer acts up just once after that, I will buy a new computer. Once my new non-Hewlett Packard computer is up and running, I will take the Compaq outside, climb onto the roof and drop the computer onto the driveway.

If you are in Wangaratta in the next few days and hear a triumphant scream coming from the west, you will know I have a new computer.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Writing Week: Issue 7, Year 5

Hi all,

I am only two days late with my weekly post this week. Could my near punctuality be a sign that I am getting my writing under control and my computer isn’t acting up? Or I am just ignoring some writing activities? It’s a bit of all three.

Amazon’s KDP Select.

In a post a couple of weeks ago I mentioned Amazon’s KDP Select program in relation to its Lending Library. Members of Amazon Prime can download a free ebook a month from Amazon’s library. For an author to place an ebook in the library, they must offer Amazon exclusivity to that ebook for 90 days.

In December authors were paid $1.70 each time one of their books was lent. I reckon that payment will decrease over time. But there are other potential benefits in being part of KDP Select for an author.

David Kazzie, in a blog post titled How Amazon’s KDP Select Saved My Book, writes that his ebook sales skyrocketed after joining KDP Select. He says Amazon allowing him to give the ebook away for free for five of the ninety days was the catalyst for much higher paid sales. Huge free downloads lead to his ebook being placed on recommended to buy lists, which then propelled his paid sales. 

Social Networking Failed to Sell ebooks.     

The second part of David Kazzie’s post is equally interesting. He thought his blogging, social networking, and viral animated videos lead to few sales. If you are a writer you have probably watched some of his shorts on youtube. I had.  

He has 158 blog followers, 563 Twitter followers and 276 people like his author’s Facebook page. The animated video linked to above has been viewed 270,000 times. But before he signed up to the KDP Select program he had only sold a few hundred copies of his book.

If makes you think: Is all the time spent by many writers twittering, facebooking and blogging worth it?

I enjoy blogging, it’s my shout to the world: I’m a writer who has something to say. I’m not a great blog reader though. I imagine there are many writers who diligently go through a list of hundreds of blogs each week and write a pithy comment on every post they read. I only read a few other blogs and I try to say something intelligent when I comment.

I rarely visit Twitter, only posting about once a week. I spend much more time on Facebook and post more frequently. Even if I don’t sell any books to Facebook friends, I very much enjoy being part of the Facebook writing community, especially since I am stuck out in the bush.     

David Kazzie’s post also got me thinking about how many books I have bought as a result of reading blogs and social networking. I reckon about ten. But only one of those would have been from an author who befriended me for the specific purpose of selling me their book. It was a very good book too.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Writing Week: Issue 6, Year 5

Hi all,

I’ve been busy writing and critiquing and marvelling at how many different problems my computer says it has. My computer was obviously designed by a politician, as it just can’t settle on any issue. It sometimes stalls when starting. I think it just needs a good cup of coffee dumped onto its CPU.

New Article for Divine.

I have been researching an article on free and cheap transport to medical appointments for people with disabilities. I’ve made lots of phone calls and left many messages, and only a few of these messages were returned. I guess the people who did not ring back were too busy leaving reminder messages for other people after they failed to call back. What a Rip-off.

I have been looking at freelance writing sites and one has confirmed my fears about most online writing jobs being total rips offs. On  I have seen jobs requiring 30 articles of 500 words with a pay rate of $30-$250 for the lot. Another job was to write a 2,000 – 10,000 word ebook, where they sent you the research. Pay rate for this one was $250 - $750. Writers are supposed to bid for these pathetically paying jobs. And always someone who is totally desperate or just doesn’t value their writing, bids the minimum value.   

The specs for the articles say software will be used check that the article isn’t plagiarised. But the scumbag job offerers probably wouldn’t have to do that if they paid a decent rate.

Critiquing a Non-Fiction Manuscript.

Last week I started critiquing a non-fiction manuscript for a friend who ran up Mount Fuji. It’s only 140,000 words, so it will take me a while. I am enjoying the story as he admits to having a lot of my traits. It begins with his efforts to get fit.   

My Novel Writing Efforts.

I have only been doing a bit of novel writing, nowhere near my goals. Last week I actually achieved 1000 words on one day. But I am supposed to do that on every weekday.

My computer problems didn’t help as I lost a file of the novel. Just as well the file only contained notes for that chapter. 

The characters are still in the damn shuttle. They were supposed to land on the planet two chapters ago. But then one character got clumsy and dropped her pistol. The novel is now at 76,800 words.

This week I had hoped to write an insightful piece on social media’s role in selling books, but that will have to wait until next week.